You don’t choose it. You don’t plan it. And for reasons incomprehensible to many of your family, friends and colleagues, you don’t really (or always) want it. You just do it because you know you have to. Maybe it’s because of your selfless nature, or your eagerness to lend a hand. Maybe it’s because you are simply feeling guilty, and saying no is more difficult than nodding. Or maybe because you are in an environment where the expectations for you to lead has been etched in stone as if it is the entirety of your indestructible destiny.
You start your journey by being the head of your classroom’s daily cleaners, then you become a member of the student government while being actively involved in some other school organizations you trailed into. Eventually, you land into the ‘real world’ of suits and ties where you carried on to leading one team after the other. You take on more roles, tasks and responsibilities despite being spread too thinly. Because you are never brave enough to decline an ‘opportunity to become a better version of yourself’.
In due course, a certain perception of your whole being is developed by the people you meet. Some are positive. Some are negative. But fragile as you are, you will be more affected by the negatives setting aside the goodness of the positives. Because you are never brave enough to accept that you are not everyone’s cup of tea.
Some say you have earned your stripes in the realm of leadership. Some say you only got lucky to be where you are now. Some predicts that you have an even brighter future ahead of you. That you will go places. Some turns their back on you whilst patiently waiting for your doomsday. Because it is only a matter of time.
Meanwhile, here you are perplexed as if you are in constant state of having to battle through crossroads. Were you born to earn stripes? Or did you work to earn stripes? Which makes more sense—to continue leading and serving the many, or to take the safer route of living for yourself? Do you deserve being trampled by disparaging tittle-tattles if you opt for the former, or the peace and serenity of the latter’s choice?
Growing up, your mother has taught you that earning your stripes reflects the respect earned not only from hard work but from the strong sense of integrity and humility. Mulling over these, you start doubting yourself for succumbing to your weakness of wanting to belong more than leading and serving. Yes, you have climbed and triumphed mountains. But have you really earned your stripes?